Archive for the 'Family Time' Category

3 Gifts That Might Never Have Been

Here are 3 gifts that might never have been, save for the grace of God:

64. my marriage–it’s a long story that I will probably never tell, but God did create beauty from ashes there

65. my son–I was in a head-on car collision when I was eight months pregnant with him, and those were pre-seat-belt days. I had toxemia, and when I went in the hospital to have him, my blood pressure (they told me later) was 210/170.

66. my relationship with my older sister’s family–God worked a LOT there to bring us closer.


Hiding Away in My Blog

I haven’t been on my blog for a while because, well–life intervened.I think I’m ready to come back, though, and I’m starting with the JOY DARE. I was listing things on Facebook, but I found that I was spending too much time thinking about how to word them (because of the audience, I think). It gives me joy to (or sometimes a little frustration ) to look for these things in my day, and I think I should just write them down and enjoy them here, where I can be semi-anonymous me. So–here’s what’s up for today:

1. one thing in the sky–the cardinals I saw, so red against all that snow. Cardinals are also the Ohio state bird, but the hubby agrees with me that Indiana cardinals are more brilliantly red than those in Ohio.

2. one thing from my memory–I was talking with the daughter this morning, and we were talking about things that happened before the hubby and I married, things that were not easy and of which I am not particularly proud. However–the point of this conversation was so that I could tell her that I think I had to go through those things to be who I am. Her journey through life has taken a different shape than mine, but the Bible says that things happen so that Jesus can make us more like Him, and I was trying to tell her that those things have a purpose. She never reads my blog, but I’ll say this to her anyway…”You’re getting there, baby. You’re getting there.

3. something that is ugly-beautiful–the snowblower. I am all thumbs when it comes to a lot of equipment, although I use far more than my mother did.  The snowblower looks like a big ugly thing, but the daughter is arriving late tonight, and the hubby used it to clear the drive and sidewalk so that she and the friends she is bringing will walk to the house on dry pavement. That makes the snowblower (and the man who operated it for me) beautiful.

I guess that’s all I need for my first visit in quite a while. Don’t worry, little blog. I’ll be back.

Weak? Or Strong?

So we are sitting in Bible study on Wednesday night, as per usual, studying 2 Timothy. The focus of the study is supposed to be how to recognize false teaching. Anyway, we come upon this passage:

1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,

4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,

7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

–2 Timothy 3-1-7 ESV

Verse 7 catches my eye. The false teachers capture weak women? I know the cultural context of the Bible, but I still can’t help myself.  I raise my hand and ask why Paul doesn’t consider the weak men.

Which leads to an interesting discussion.

Debbie raises her hand and asks why the women are not receiving instruction from their husbands.

I have an answer for that.  Some women can’t receive instruction from their husbands.

True, right?

But then Phil, who is sitting next to me, says, “Do you think those women are weak-willed or strong-willed?”

I answer, perhaps too quickly, “Strong-willed, of course.”

He shakes his head and says, “I’d say they’re weak-willed.”

I’ve been thinking about that ever since.

Soldiers go to boot camp to learn how to submit. And any more, a college degree’s value lies in the fact that it proves the person holding it can take instruction. In boot camp, you put aside your own needs for the needs of the whole. In college, you focus your life to reach an ultimate goal.

It does take strength to submit, does it not? And in that light, submission does not seem to be the dirty word our society tries to make it.

That’s what I think, anyway. I’d be interested in hearing what you think.

Childhood and Play

I just had to share this since, well,  I work in a school and see examples of what it talks about every day.


The son tells me that the eldest grandson, age eight, needs to pay more attention to his reading.  He is a skimmer.  This is something that doesn’t surprise me or his daddy, and it’s not all bad, but skimming surely does affect how the boy does on standardized tests.

Boy’s daddy and I decided to see if he (the grandson) would work puzzles with grandpa and me when we visit this weekend.  I must say that the grandson did NOT sound thrilled.  His daddy kept talking until he agreed to a 100 piece puzzle.  I am armed with a 100 piece (dinosaurs) and a 300 piece (Cars).   (Aren’t dollar stores nice?)

Especially in this electronic age, I seldom see kids reading for pleasure.  At what point, what age, do kids begin to get lost in books?  Is there any way to trigger it, or is a love of reading something that just clicks at some point?

Jobs My Dad Remembers

On the trip we took with my dad recently, he talked a lot about how things used to be, and one of the things he mentioned was milk.  He talked about its getting delivered to a box on your porch, and then he mentioned that he had delivered milk.  That was something that I never knew.  So I asked if that was one of his summer jobs.  I remember my father working three jobs until he was sixty to support us,  and I appreciate that fact.  I am the middle child, though, and a lot of things happened in the eleven years before I was born.

Delivering milk wasn’t one of Dad’s summer jobs.  He got up for work at 3AM during the school year and delivered milk three days a week.

All I could think of as he was talking was the sacrifice that was for our family.  And that’s what I said.  To which my father responded simply, “It had to be done.”

Which made me respect him all the more.

I watched my husband work hours and hours of overtime that got us through his railroad lay-offs and provided enough for us to raise and educate our children.  I watch my son and my nephew now, both of whom can be called on to work hours far outside of what we think of as a normal work day.  And I have respect for them, too.

I know women whose husbands do not take their duty to their family so seriously.

Anyway,  like I said, I just don’t know a lot of the things that happened before I was born.  I was forty before I found out that Dad had played college football.  When I razzed him a little about it, he just said it never came up in conversation before.  Wouldn’t you think that it would?

So I asked him to make a list of the jobs he remembers.  It’s a pretty long list.  Here goes:

1941-Dad was 16.  He set out tomato plants and did other farm work for a truck gardener, Mr. Loveland,  near  Bridgeton, NJ. Mr. Loveland was a German immigrant.  One specialty of his was cantaloupes.

1941-42-Dad was a clerk in a bond store on Laurel St. in Bridgeton.  It was an old-style grocery store with a meat counter.  Although my dad had no previous experience, he cut pork chops, steaks, and other meat.  This was an after-school job.

1942-Dad had a summer job at Morvay’s Clothing Factory.  He was learning to be a spreader, spreading the cloth on tables before it was cut into pattern pieces and sewn.

Dad and Mom got married in August, 1943.  He had turned 18 in June.  Mom was 18 in July.  He shipped out for the military just days after their marriage.  Dad needed his parents’ permission to marry.  A man in West Virginia at that time had to be 21 to marry, but a woman only had to be 18.  They had a plan to elope if my grandparents said no.

1943-1946-Dad was in the Navy.  He worked as both a general storekeeper and an aviation storekeeper.

My brother was born in 1944.

1946-In the summer, Dad was a service station attendant at a Pure Oil station in Fairmont, WV.  After he told us this, he started washing the windshield when we stopped for gas.  My heart was touched.

1947 (summer)- Dad was a storeroom clerk for Owens-Illinois in Bridgeton.

My sister was born in 1947.

1947-48-Dad was a clerk in the meat department of the A&P in Fairmont, WV.  It was there that he was convinced to eat steak tartare.  Eeeeeew!

1948-1949-Dad taught high school Latin, English and Social Studies in Oakland, MD.

I guess I forgot to mention that despite all these jobs, he managed to get his BA.

1949-1950-Dad was a graduate assistant at West Virginia University while he was working on his MA in English.  He taught freshman English.

1950 (summer) -Dad worked for the Montana Forest Service in the Beaverhead National Forest.  He drove a 2 and a half ton truck.  He loved this job, and he talks about it a LOT.

1950-1951- Dad taught English and Latin at the high school in Dillon, MT. He says my mom didn’t like Montana.  She said it was because of the cold; he thinks it was because she was so far away from her family.  Either way, they moved back East.

Somewhere in here, Dad got his MA in English.

1951-1952- Dad taught English and American History in Welch, WV.

1952-1953- Dad was a methods and standards engineer at Chambers Works, Pennsville, NJ.  He lived in Bridgeton, NJ at the time.  He didn’t like the job because it was to set standard times to get jobs done that workers had to meet.  The workers, he said, didn’t like the standards or the people who made them.

1953-1954-Dad taught English in Bridgeton, NJ.  In the summer, he drove a cement-mixer truck.

1954-1955-Dad taught English in Vineland, NJ.

I was born in 1955.

1955-1956- Dad worked in the accounting department at Owens-Illinois in Bridgeton.

1956-1958-  Dad was a computer programmer for Owens-Illinois in Toledo, OH.  He remembers those computer punch cards well.

1958-1959- Dad taught English at the high school in Swanton, OH and freshman English at the University of Toledo.

Do you know any English teachers?  They fall asleep grading papers.

1959-1991- Dad taught English and Latin at Waite High School.

My youngest sister was born in 1962.  There’s an eighteen year span between his children, and he managed college for all of us.

These are not all his jobs.   I can’t remember a time when he didn’t work day school, night school and summer school, and he always found a different summer job if summer school wasn’t available.  Since he retired, he has delivered newspapers, taught at a Lutheran school and taught Latin over the Internet, which was a unique experience.

I always thought my dad was an intelligent man, and I think part of the reason  is that he has done so very much in his life.  He’s not rich, but we always had enough.  I think I was about eight when he and Mom woke me up to see a $100  bill that they had left over from paying the bills. They were so excited!   The thing that strikes me the most, though, is not the money that he worked for. It’is that he doesn’t see the work he has done as a sacrifice at all.

I do.  And I really appreciate it.

Dad’s Stories about the Depression

To be truthful, I didn’t know how this trip with my dad would go.  I thought he might not like not having control of driving, but he doesn’t seem to mind.  And one of the benefits of the trip is the stories that he tells.

My younger sister and I have been trying to get Dad to write down his family stories for quite a while, but with little success.  He really is quite busy for 85, but I don’t think that’s the reason he doesn’t write the stories down.  On this road trip, though, things stir his memory and he talks.

I don’t know a lot about Dad’s family on his mom’s side, the DeVaults, although he talks with affection about all of them, so I got a notebook and asked him to write down the relationships.  He started talking about Grandma DeVault, my great-grandma, and then along came Uncle Jim and Aunt Jenny.

See?  That’s part of the problem.  I have never heard of Uncle Jim and Aunt Jenny before.

Turns out, Uncle Jim was a Wilson, Gread-grandma DeVault’s brother.  Jenny was his sister. She moved in with Jim after her husband died. They lived behind my great-grandmother’s farm on Uncle Jim’s farm.  When Dad went to visit his grandmother, he would visit them, too. 

Theirs is not the first story I have heard of my ancestors helping one another.  The Depression was hard on both sides of my family, but my mother’s family was able to move out to the country and farm, so their property was saved.  Dad’s dad, on the other hand, worked for Owen’s-Illinois, and they ended up losing their house on East Park Avenue in Fairmont and moving to Bridgeton, New Jersey.

Before they moved, though, my grandparents struggled, both to hold on to their house and to help their family.  My grandmother’s sisters and their children lived their for a while.  And that led to some really good memories for my dad.

His cousin Barbara lived with them for a while.  She was a teen, and he remembers her taking up the rug in the parlor and inviting her friends over to dance.  He was about seven at the time.  Grandma and Grandpa had a Victrola that had to be cranked, but Dad smiled as those teens dance in his memory.

Seems Barbara had a boyfriend who was on the football team, one Patsy Jones.  My Uncle Ronald, who was about four at the time, would pick up a pillow in the parlor, run through the open French doors into the dining room, and slam down his pillow for a touchdown, all in imitation of Patsy.  My uncle always wore a smile and  when I see him do this, in my mind’s eye, he looks remarkably like my grandson, also named Ronald. (It’s that famous RJ smile.)

Barbara had a brother named Herman who also lived with my grandparents for a while.  He was good with wood.  (He and Dad spent time with their Grandpa DeVault, who was a carpenter by trade.  Is a talent with wood hereditary?)  Anyway, Herman, as a teenager, must have longed for his own space, and he found it.  He found scraps of lumber and built himself a desk, setting up an “office” in the garage.  Herman had time for my dad and his brother, though.  Dad says he built a trapeze in the garage, and he and his brother had fun going out there and “skinning the cat,” probably just basking in the presence of their older cousin.

One of the benefits of this summer in all its hectic activity has been that, in order to survive it, the hubby and I have had to live in the moment.  These moments with my dad are precious ones.  This trip, with time flowing through my fingers like water, is totally worth it.  Dad’s parents did end up losing their home and having to move, which must have been traumatic, but that’s not what he remembers most.  What he remembers is their pulling together.  And that’s a legacy that’s totally worth having.

October 2018
« Jan